2012 Connecticut General Statutes
Title 52 - Civil Actions
Chapter 925 - Statutory Rights of Action and Defenses
Section 52-571b - Action or defense authorized when state or political subdivision burdens a person’s exercise of religion.
(a) The state or any political subdivision of the state shall not burden a person’s exercise of religion under section 3 of article first of the Constitution of the state even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) The state or any political subdivision of the state may burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest, and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
(c) A person whose exercise of religion has been burdened in violation of the provisions of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against the state or any political subdivision of the state.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the state or any political subdivision of the state to burden any religious belief.
(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect, interpret or in any way address that portion of article seventh of the Constitution of the state that prohibits any law giving a preference to any religious society or denomination in the state. The granting of government funding, benefits or exemptions, to the extent permissible under the Constitution of the state, shall not constitute a violation of this section. As used in this subsection, the term “granting” does not include the denial of government funding, benefits or exemptions.
(f) For the purposes of this section, “state or any political subdivision of the state” includes any agency, board, commission, department, officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision of the state, and “demonstrates” means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.
Plaintiff’s claim re injuries she suffered while voluntarily participating in church healing ritual service are based on religious exercise and not religious belief, and are therefore subject to strict scrutiny under Subsecs. (a) and (b); plaintiff cannot prevail under “public safety exception” of Art. I, Sec. 3 of Connecticut Constitution. 52 CS 218; judgment affirmed, see 134 CA 459.
Plaintiff could not prevail on claim that, pursuant to Subsec., antidiscrimination statutes should be enforced against religious institution upon showing of compelling state interest; although this Subsec. and Subsec. (a) authorize state to burden “exercise” of a person’s religion upon showing of compelling state interest, Subsec. (d) expressly precludes state from burdening “any religious belief,” and because internal governance of religious institution, including employment of ministers and clergy, is a protected religious belief of the institution, commission correctly determined that it lacked jurisdiction. 98 CA 646.
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